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UAE denies reports of foiling Iran plot against Israel tourists

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - APRIL 15: The skyline of Dubai Marina is seen as teams race during the Dubai Grand Prix - the Second round of the UIM World Series where 14 boats ae competing at Dubai International Marine Club on April 15, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. XCAT, short for extreme catamaran, is one of the most challenging and extreme forms of powerboat racing in the world. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for XCAT)
The skyline of Dubai Marina is seen as teams race during the Dubai Grand Prix - the Second round of the UIM World Series where 14 boats ae competing at Dubai International Marine Club on April 15, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates [Julian Finney/Getty Images for XCAT]

The UAE has rejected claims made by Israeli news outlets that its security services had arrested a number of Iranians suspected of plotting to carry out an attack against Israeli tourists visiting the Emirates.

"The Government of the United Arab Emirates has denied media reports circulating today regarding the foiling of an alleged attack in Dubai," it said in a statement yesterday.

Describing the claims as "wholly false", the statement called on the public and media "to refer to official sources for information and to avoid circulating unverified reports".

On Sunday night Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 reported that Emirati authorities had arrested several Iranians in Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the previous few days on suspicion of conspiring to carry out the attacks.

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The report also alleged that the UAE intelligence services were looking into whether the planned attacks targeted the thousands of Israeli tourists and businesspeople who are now frequenting the Gulf country since its US-brokered normalisation with Tel Aviv last year. According to the news channel, the authorities shared the information "with friendly states".

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli military and other security officials are on high alert over a potential Iranian retaliatory attack to coincide with the recent one-year anniversary of the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani and more recently, the targeted killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in late November.

Tehran has accused Israel in being connected to both incidents and has vowed revenge with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stating last month that "Iran's government is entitled to take retaliation from the elements behind the assassination of the martyr", in reference to Fakhrizadeh.

According to Haaretz, the influx of tens of thousands of Israeli visitors to the UAE represents a "major headache" for the Shin Bet and Mossad who are concerned about Iranian intelligence exploiting the normalised ties between Israel and the UAE where hundreds of thousands of Iranians visit and reside.

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